The Banjo: America's African Instrument

Backorder (temporarily out of stock)

Product Details

Belknap Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 1.4 X 9.3 inches | 1.6 pounds
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Laurent Dubois (PhD. University of Michigan) is associate professor of history at Michigan State University. His book A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 (2004) won the American Historical Association Prize in Atlantic History and the John Edwin Fagg Award. He is also the author of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (2004), which was a Christian Science Monitor Noteworthy Book of 2004 and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2004, and Les esclaves de la Republique: l'histoire oubliee de la premiere emancipation, 1787-1794 (1998).


Dubois reveals the banjo as a vital medium for the ideas and struggles of the people who make it, play it, and hear it. Combining storytelling and scholarship as seamlessly as the banjo condenses rhythm and melody, this special book is a melodious read by an extraordinary writer of Atlantic history.--Vincent Brown, author of The Reaper's Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery
Dubois attempts to trace the evolution of the modern instrument from its African antecedents to the present day, prudently noting that a linear account is likely to be misleading...There is enough anecdote and lore to satisfy both the casual and the specialist reader.--Lou Glandfield"Times Literary Supplement" (04/01/2016)
Following the strings of the banjo from Africa across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and then to the United States, Laurent Dubois provides a new perspective on the African diaspora. The Banjo: America's African Instrument is a rich, original view of our sonic landscape. It is impossible to follow Dubois's trail without a smile and the satisfaction of hearing the world anew.--Ira Berlin, author of Generations of Captivity: A History of African American Slaves
A wonderful offering, and a fascinating and illuminating read. This is the most comprehensive book yet about the history of the banjo. The instrument's story is told here with such depth and detail that it comes alive. I loved reading this.--BΓ©la Fleck, banjoist
Dubois illuminates the banjo's complicated cultural history...This lively account is not without surprises.--New Yorker (05/23/2016)
Dubois relates here a history of the instrument that is both learned and entertaining. His enthusiasm shines through every page.-- (03/14/2016)
[A] riveting history of the banjo...While the story Dubois tells is primarily historical and sociological, it is also musical, and he never lets us forget the magical hum that distinguishes the banjo from the guitar and other stringed instruments...Dubois combines erudition with obvious enjoyment. His limpid prose easily bears the weight of his impressive research.-- (04/09/2016)
In his astonishing work The Banjo: America's African Instrument, DuBois convincingly and compellingly demonstrates the instrument's historical role as both symbol and product of diaspora and dislocation...The Banjo is a masterful accomplishment that reframes the broader cultural history of the world. By following the instrument from precontact to postmillennium, this celebrated historian has created a powerful tribute to the music, its performers, and its listeners...With its depth and power, The Banjo achieves an impact commensurate with its namesake.-- (12/01/2017)
This is one of the very best books on the banjo published to date...It is also one with a grand scope of the life of the banjo. If you are interested enough in the banjo to understand the instrument and its uses more fully, you cannot do better than to read this lively, superb account.-- (06/01/2016)
If you own a banjo you should probably own this book. But fair warning, it will probably lead you to buy more banjos, maybe even one made from a gourd. If you enjoy history on a grand but approachable will also find the book fascinating.-- (09/20/2018)